One of the most important traits that any Washington, DC, wedding photographer can have is flexibility. The day when two fiancés become two spouses is almost always hectic and unpredictable. Despite the months of planning that goes into a marriage celebration, things rarely go exactly as expected. Things run late, participants are not always where they are supposed to be and weird stuff has a way of happening. And that is perfectly ok. Future brides and grooms in DC should not get stressed about the likelihood of little bumps in the road. They are part of the process and frankly, something about which you will laugh later. We frequently tell our Washington wedding clients that those unexpected moments will be the ones that are most memorable in the end. Newlyweds will forget what the chicken tasted like by the next day. They will remember forever having to get replacement pants for the groomsman who split his only pair.
As DC wedding photographers, we learned long ago to just roll with whatever happens on a couple’s wedding day. We are always punctual, of course, and do what we can to keep things on track. When we can be of some assistance, we will do whatever a bride or groom needs us to do. But in the end, we are there to document what is happening, not be a part of the proceedings. We will photograph whatever is taking place, and the wedding album we deliver to our clients will be an accurate (if artistic) representation of the marital event.
We have found over time that this approach leads to some really great photography at Washington-area weddings. As we mentioned above, some of the most unforgettable moments in a marital event are the ones nobody saw coming. We still remember the time a groom accidentally cursed loudly during his best man’s toast. Not just because it was funny, but also because we got a great picture of the groom clapping his hands over his mouth immediately afterwards. The bride and groom who got married at an alpaca farm will never forget when two of those adorable animals “kissed” at the same time as them. Why? Because we recorded that moment on film forever.
The importance of flexibility for a Washington, DC, wedding photographer extends beyond being ready to take pictures of unplanned moments. People who photograph marriage celebrations professionally also need to be able to take gorgeous portraits in any setting or condition. There is often not a lot of time for couples portraiture. This is particularly true if the getting-ready process or the wedding ceremony have run long. As a result, DC wedding photographers sometimes have to pose brides and grooms in spaces that are close at hand. They often have to make newlyweds look fantastic in church lobbies or reception venue parking lots. And the best of these wedding professionals can do it with ease.
Frequently, the key to creating memorable couples portraiture in less-than-ideal circumstances is turning their weaknesses into strengths. The image featured here is a good (and literal) illustration of that point. We took couples portraits for these newlyweds during the brightest part of the day. Because of the way most weddings are scheduled, it is pretty common for pictures of brides and grooms to be taken in the mid-afternoon. Unfortunately, the light is particularly harsh and unflattering at that time. It casts hard shadows, and the contrast between light and dark is so pronounced that properly exposed images are difficult. Vital parts of the composition are either blown out or shrouded in darkness.
In situations like this a photographer typically needs to either make the pictures very light or very dark. With a little bit of flexibility, though, we found a way to make this couple’s a bit of both. The end result was a photo that was, despite the unfavorable conditions, perfectly exposed and beautiful to look at.
Getting a picture this gorgeous in harsh lighting started with the positioning of the newlyweds. To keep the sunlight from creating deep shadows, we put the couple between us and the sun. That ensured that the side of them facing the camera was evenly lit. We also made sure that there was something other than sky behind their heads. Getting the greens of the grass and trees exposed correctly meant that the sky was no longer blue in our shots. It was, as you can see in the upper right corner of the frame, entirely whited out. By lining up the trees behind the subjects, we largely minimized what would have been a distracting effect. Doing that also included more nature and greenery in the composition, which we felt fit with the overall theme of the picture.
The last thing we had to deal with was something called lens flare. That is a visual effect that happens when rays of sunshine (or other sources of light) sneak into a picture. This occurs even though the camera is not pointed directly at said source. It can produce sometimes-unwanted artifacts like rings or starbursts in the final image.
Because the sun was so bright that day and because our cameras were pointed towards that light, lens flare was an issue in this portrait session. Remembering the importance of flexibility and turning weaknesses into strengths, however, we decided to use the flare to our advantage. Instead of trying to minimize it, we decided to embrace it and alter it to our designs. Using a small piece of copper tubing placed in front of the lens, we reflected the flare across the frame. This scattered the light a bit, making it less of a streak across the faces of the newlyweds. Instead, the light became more even, gentle and flattering. The tube also shaped the flare into faint, concentric circles. This effect did a great job of creating a frame around the new husband and wife. The rings subtly encourage the eye to look at their faces and the tender moment between the two of them. All the result of us having learned to embrace the challenges and remain flexible on a wedding day!
© 2019 Potok's World Photography - Husband & Wife Washington DC Wedding Photographers